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Read/Download Essence of the Bhagavad Gita: A Cont
Read/Download Essence of the Bhagavad Gita: A Cont

Read online or Download Essence of the Bhagavad Gita: A Contemporary Guide to Yoga, Meditation, and Indian Philosophy (Full PDF ebook with essay, research paper)
by Eknath Easwaran


Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781586380687
Publisher:
Wisdom of India
Pages:
225
Sales rank:
246,648
Product dimensions:
5.20(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.00(d)

Overview


The Bhagavad Gita opens with a crisis — Prince Arjuna despairs on the battlefield, unsure if he should fight his kinsmen in a dreadful war. For Easwaran, the Gita’s epic battle represents the war in our own hearts and Arjuna’s anguish reflects the human condition: torn between opposing forces, confused about how to live. Sri Krishna’s timeless guidance, Easwaran argues, can shed light on our dilemmas today.

Placing the Gita’s teachings in a modern context, Easwaran explores the nature of reality, the illusion of separateness, the search for identity, the meaning of yoga, and how to heal the unconscious. The key message of the Gita is how to resolve our conflicts and live in harmony with the deep unity of life, through the practice of meditation and spiritual disciplines.

Sri Krishna doesn’t tell Arjuna what to do. He points out the prince’s choices, and then leaves it to Arjuna to decide. Easwaran shows us clearly how these teachings still apply — and how, like Arjuna, we must take courage and act wisely if we want our world to thrive.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"It is impossible to get to the heart of those classics unless you live them, and [Easwaran] did live them. My admiration of the man and his works is boundless." — H U S T O N S M I T H, author of The World’s Religions (Reviewing Easwaran’s translation, The Bhagavad Gita)

Related Subjects

  • ">Hindu Poetry
  • ">Indic & South Asian Poetry
  • ">Literature & Sacred Texts - Hinduism

    Read an Excerpt


    I can’t remember when my love of the Gita began. As a child I had no conscious interest in anything spiritual; I was an ordinary boy growing up in a remote South Indian village, absorbed in my friends and pets and our sports and games. But one summer before I reached the age of ten, my grandmother decided that instead of swimming and playing soccer, I should spend my vacation learning Sanskrit from the village priest. I had no idea why, and I rather resented it, but because I loved Granny deeply I did as she desired. I learned in the traditional manner, from passages committed to memory from India’s great scriptures and poets, including many from the Bhagavad Gita. The verses appealed to me deeply for their beauty, but so far as I can tell they must have sunk into my unconscious without any sense of their deeper meaning.

    So I am at a loss to explain why, when I left home for college at the age of sixteen, I chose to spend my first pittance of a pocket allowance on a copy of the Gita in Sanskrit. To my uncles, that purchase was a sure sign that I would never amount to much. Today it seems almost as if the book had been waiting for me to come and pick it up. Without realizing it, I had already become a “Gita kid.”

    I read the book over and over, committing to memory favorite verses until they numbered probably three or four hundred. Later, as a university student and then as a professor, I had many occasions to listen to learned talks on the Gita by distinguished scholars, philosophers, and religious figures. Yet it was only when I met Mahatma Gandhi that I began to understand that the Gita is not only magnificent literature but a sure guide to human affairs — one that could, in fact, throw light on the problems I faced in my own times of crisis. Gandhi went so far as to say frankly, after nearly a lifetime of personal experience, that the Gita contains the answer to every problem life has to offer. That is the greatest debt I owe him. For all India he is the father of the nation, which is a very high tribute; but for me he is the beacon of our times, and his source of light was the Bhagavad Gita.

    Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, the second president of India and a great scholar, once observed that the ancient Greeks gave us intellectual values, the Romans political values, and the Jews moral values. India’s contribution, he added, is spiritual values. It is a generalization, but one with a good deal of truth. A civilization can be evaluated by the kind of human being it aims at, the highest ideal it holds up. Wherever we look in India’s long history, we find the highest honor given to men and women dedicated to the realization of the supreme reality that most religions call God.

    I think it was Arnold Toynbee, in the course of his study of world civilizations, who said that India had a genius for religion: not in the sense of a particular religion, but religion itself. This needs some explanation, for we are used to thinking of religions in the plural, bound to particular cultures, and thus of India’s scriptures as Hindu. But the word “Hinduism,” even the idea, never appears in our scriptures, and it is really is too narrow to describe what they mean by religion. The term that is used is sanatana dharma: sanatana means changeless, eternal; dharma is a rich and complex word that we can translate here as law. So sanatana dharma means something universal: the eternal principles or changeless values on which life is based, regardless of creed, country, culture, or epoch.

    If you ask orthodox Hindus when their religion was founded, they may tell you, “Our religion was never founded. It was always there.” This kind of reply baffles Western scholars, but it means simply that the laws of life, like physical laws, have existed forever. No one has put this better than Mahatma Gandhi: “What I mean by religion . . . is not the Hindu religion . . . but the religion that transcends Hinduism, which changes one’s very nature, which binds one indissolubly to the truth within . . . It is the permanent element in human nature.”

    The oldest expression of this idea goes back a good five thousand years to the cradle of India’s civilization, the Vedas: four collections of an ancient wisdom tradition transmitted orally but systematically until they began to be written down, perhaps as early as 3000 BC. Each of the Vedas can be divided into two sections. The first of these deals with rituals, myth, and hymns that are of great cultural significance but not relevant to this search for a universal religion. For that we turn to the second part of the Vedas, which comprises the Upanishads — visionary records of the direct encounters of anonymous sages with a transcendent reality. The Upanishads are probably the oldest expression in history of what Aldous Huxley called the “perennial philosophy.”

    The Upanishads are lofty and inspiring, but they are not terribly practical: they tell what sages have found but little about how others can make this discovery themselves. Yet the whole point of religion in this sense is that wisdom must be based on one’s own experience. We need some way to translate the wisdom of the Upanishads into everyday life.

    That is where the Bhagavad Gita scores heavily. It too offers inspiration and poetry, but unlike the Upanishads, it combines these with practical explanation and instruction. It is, in a word, a handbook — as Mahatma Gandhi put it, a manual for daily living, not just in ancient India but in all times and places. In the Gita, the wisdom of the Upanishads is complemented and brought to earth by Sri Krishna, who, through Arjuna, tells us — you and me — what practices to follow to gain direct, experiential knowledge of reality.

    In Indian philosophy, the various ways of attaining this knowledge are called yoga and the underlying theory is sankhya. At some point in the development of Indian thought — perhaps early in the first millennium BC, certainly well before the Buddha was born — sankhya and the major schools of yoga became systematized. But that seems to have happened after the Bhagavad Gita was composed, when later schools of thought were still emerging. As a result, the Gita is broad enough to support all paths to the discovery of sanatana dharma, providing not just a guidebook but a map.



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